Typhoon Wipha slams eastern Japan, at least 17 dead

News & Views - October 17th, 2013

Torrential rains and strong winds brought by Typhoon Wipha lashed Japan’s eastern coast, leaving at least 17 people dead and 38 wounded.

More than 50 people were reported missing after heavy rains triggered landslides and floods in worst-hit Izu Oshima, an island in the Pacific about 120 kilometers south of central Tokyo. At least 16 people died when houses collapsed or were buried in mudslides.

In Tokyo, flights were cancelled while bullet train services were disrupted during the morning rush hour early Wednesday as Typhoon Wipha made landfall.

One woman believed to be in her 40s was swept away by a swollen river in Machida, western Tokyo, police said. She was rescued but later died.

Elsewhere, two 12-year-old boys were missing after being carried away by high waves near the coast in Ninomiya, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Rescuers were also looking for a 56-year-old man who was in his home in Narita, Chiba Prefecture, when a landslide struck.

Nearly 20,000 people were ordered to leave and thousands of schools shut, according to Reuters.

The storm is the strongest in a decade to hit the Tokyo region, bringing strong winds up to 180 kph and record rainfall early Wednesday.

Typhoon Wipha dumped nearly 5 inches (12cm) of rainfall in just one hour on Izu Oshima.

“It is the strongest typhoon in 10 years to pass the Kanto region,” Hiroyuki Uchida, the Japan Meteorological Agency’s chief forecaster, told journalists on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company said it had to pump out rain water from around the storage tanks as the typhoon grazed Fukushima. Tepco added that its radiation readings were within a safe limit.

Typhoon Wipha has now been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves north-east.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr